It is simply impossible to think that 1999's The Legend of the Titanic, one of the worst animated films I have ever seen  or could imagine seeing, was such a big deal that it could inspire a quick, cheap knock-off, but here we are with 2000's Titanic: The Legend Goes On... or Titanic: The Legend Continues... or whatever you want to call it - in any case, it's an Italian-Spanish film made in a hell of a hurry to capitalise on the first movie. In a particularly cunning bit of marketing wizardry, the distributor - which distributor in which country, I cannot say, though the title has been used in both Italian and English - hit upon calling it Titanic: The Animated Movie, even though it was in fact the second animated movie about the RMS Titanic, thereby giving it the briefest appearance of respectability. By "brief" I mean "until you actually see footage of the hideous goddamn thing", because there's really no way that anybody could make it more than about 15 seconds into the film while still maintaining the illusion that it's an actual movie.

Actually, what I think is the case - and one can never do more than think things are true about this movie - is that The Legend Goes On... properly refers only to the 82-minute original cut, while The Animated Movie refers to the 60-minute cut that is far better known in the United States, haha, I just used the phrase "far better known", as though any version of this movie is well-known outside of a self-selecting population of deranged masochists that I just so happen to belong to. But if you do know about the movie, it's most likely because of  two-minute video of a Scottish Terrier responding to a Yiddish mouse thanking him by, a propos of nothing, launching into a rap that has been mixed very differently than every other piece of audio in the movie, to declare that it is party time, and that we'll be busting a movie and he'll be busting a rhyme, which will cause us to bust out laughing. Because it's party time.

This song does not appear in the longer cut, even in its English dub (Fritz raps a different rap, and he at least feints towards introducing it in a sort of rational way), which is part of what gets me to wondering about that shorter cut: was it, like, deliberate sabotage, designed to make the film appealing to the "you've got to see this car crash" crowd? In no version of Titanic: The Legend Goes On... does the plot make all that much sense, or does it flow particularly well, but in the shorter cut, it plays like a goddamn fever dream (perhaps literally: the shorter cut introduces a frame in which this all takes place as flashbacks while the survivors escape the sinking ship), with fragments of scenes showing up all out of order and making even the limited amount of stable cause-and-effect storytelling present in the original cut turn into a shambles of "wait, where are we" and "how did they get there?" and "I am certain that I already saw Fritz turn his head in exactly that way at least twice already". Which  is to say that when you rush right out to see this movie - and you should, because it's among the most nuttily enjoyable bad movies of the 2000s - look for the hour-long cut. Not only is it faster, it's considerably more deranged, and derangement is pretty much the only good reason for dealing with any of this.

In either case, we've got pretty much the same rat's nest of storylines, and I'm both relieved and, honestly, a little disappointed to report that, unlike The Legend of the Titanic, there's no magic involved, to say nothing of a human/shark conspiracy involving whaling rights. It's just the kind of everyday human dramas that show up in any disaster movie with a sprawling cast. The main focus, because this is still a rip-off James Cameron's Titanic, is a romantic story, but get this - it's the woman who's in third class this time, and the man who's in first. The woman, Angelica, is also Cinderella: she's the ward and unpaid servant of a wretched woman in a wine-colored dress named Gertrude, who has a tall skinny daughter who wears green hues and a short fat daughter who wears red hues, and a cat that spends all of its time hunting mice. If you think that this is an especially shameless rip-off of Disney's Cinderella, you will also surely enjoy all of the animals who appear to have been traced directly from One Hundred and One Dalmatians and Lady and the Tramp. Or the human characters who are merely very suspiciously similar to the bumbling Cockney thieves from Dalamatians, Kirk and Dirk, the lackeys of a pickpocket queen named Corynthia or Amalia, depending on which language you're watching in. There's a poor French Lothario named Gaston, putting the movies on the ship's singer Molly; there is a broke woman named Winnie who uses her dog to trap rich-looking men so she can hit on them; and there's a bumbling detective named Sam Bradbury, trying to stop Corynthia and her gang. The boy who falls for Angelica, William, is traveling with his nanny, who has been searching for years for her long-lost daughter; Angelica, meanwhile, is hunting for her locket that Gaston stole, which has the photograph of her long-lost mother, and if you can't guess how those two plotlines intersect, you might just be young enough to enjoy The Legend Goes On unironically.

But I don't know that you could possibly be young enough watch this and not see what gigantic bullshit the animation is. It's among the ugliest animated films I've ever seen, and the most technically inept. As I said, this was made in a hurry, and it shows: the characters scoot through space at a framerate that doesn't suggest the illusion of movement, so much as a 1990s computer game with severe lag issues. I suspect, for that matter, that this was being done on computers, if only for the presence of a woman doggedly marching in place while the crowd around her rushes to the top deck after the Titanic hits the iceberg: I suspect that we're looking at somebody for whom a walk cycle was programmed, but then they forgot to define a movement path for her before they rendered out the scene. But I don't know for sure, and regardless of the tech involved, the stiff, linear movement and the massive quantity of recycled animation, give the film a lifeless, robotic feeling. The human characters in particular jerk around arrhythmically, jutting their arms and heads around in graceless gestures that are one of the surest signs of animation that wasn't being planned out properly, with the animators just kind of faking it as they went along. Coupled with how extraordinarily goddamn ugly the human character design is (especially Angelica and William, the ones who are supposed to look "realistic", but have terrifyingly rigid, puffed-up lips and unfocused eyes that move too slowly in their heads), it's a strong contender for the worst character animation I've seen in any movie that was made later than the 1920s.

Look past the animation - which I don't think is actually something you can do, but let's be optimistic - you're still struck with the godawful flow of the thing. It feels like absolutely nothing happens until all of sudden the ship runs into an iceberg, after endless scenes of the animals planning a party, while the humans yell at each other, occasionally interspersed with musical numbers that come in one of two flavors: droning, or racist. It is not quite as astonishingly ill-conceived as The Legend of the Titanic, and it explicitly makes it clear that people died in the Titanic disaster, which shouldn't feel like a brave achievement, but that's how low the bar is. But it's also so much less watchable as object, visually hideous and narratively disjointed, that it manages to win the title of "worst animated film about the Titanic" without even having to fight for it. It is one of the most surreally bad films I have ever encountered, the kind of thing that you brain refuses to acknowledge exists even as you're watching it. For sheer mesmerising grotesqueness, there's almost nothing I can name that beats it, and no fan of bad movies can say that their life is complete till they've been exposed to it.

The short version is on YouTube here:

The long version (in pieces) is on YouTube here: